Improving lives of pregnant mothers and newborn children in Anuradhapura

Every year, the maternal care programme in Anuradhapura register more than 17,000 pregnant mothers. Public health midwives register more than 15,000 newborns per year in the district. The maternal and child health service in Sri Lanka is considered exceptional. Yet the health status of these mothers and their newborn kids is yet to be optimzed .

Priority areas for interventions

Available data suggest that one third of pregnant mothers ( more than 5000) in Anuradhapura are anemic. While the iron supplementations are given through the public health system, the problem remains same. Policy changes in tackling anemia in pregnancy needs further investigations on mothers with anemia to determine underlying causes of anemia.

The leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in Anuradhapura is suicide. During past 10 years we showed that each year, around 2700 mothers in Anuradhapura have depression and anxiety while they are pregnant. Another 4000 women experience depressive symptoms after the child birth. Majority of these cases are not detected and considered as “normal”. This resulted in not only poor health outcomes, but also adverse family and social outcomes. Recent work on maternal mental health in Anuradhapura clearly shows that the issue is complex and need comprehensive understanding of socio-biological features of this issue.

In addition, the increasing burden of high blood glucose , high blood pressure and heart disease complicating pregnancy are leading major problems in Anuradhapura. All these conditions require identification of local risk factors for primary and secondary prevention

Generating Evidence for Ending Preventable Maternal Deaths (GEEPMD) Project.

Based on 10years of maternal health work, DoCM is launching a massive programme on improving maternal health in Anuradhapura. The programme will be in collaboration with the Anuradhapura regional director of health service and provincial health department. The programme includes health promotion, detecting and proper estimation of major maternal health issues, providing support for investigations to rural pregnant mothers and also to generate data for health policy. We will specifically provide services related to anemia, mental health, heart disease, gestational diabetes, economic burden and liver disease in pregnancy.

Our sponsors and supporters

The research component of this project is partially supported through UGC, World Bank AHEAD grant. The service component is delivered through the Maternal and Child Health Research Unit funds. We expect crowdfunding and public support to expand the proposed intervention and services. The background work is now completed and initial work started in Puliyankulama maternal clinic on 21st June, 2019.

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Department of Community Medicine